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Food Roundup

8 of the world’s stinkiest foods

Published on September 06, 2018 | Last Updated April 07, 2022
Some century eggs and one has its shell broken to reveal the inside
A crate of century eggs.

What food smells make your mouth water and your tummy rumble with excitement? Fresh-baked bread? Sizzling bacon? Warm cinnamon buns? Well, forget about those.

Here’s a list of foods that could actually taste pretty good. But their smells are so stinky you might run away before you even stop to try them! You may want to put on your nose plugs before you read on:

Durian

spiky durian fruit cut in half exposing the fleshy interior

(Canva)

In some airports in Southeast Asia, there are actually signs telling passengers they're not allowed to bring durian on the planes! Even though they’re so stinky, people all over the world enjoy the strange creamy fruit inside the spiky shell.

Locust fruit

a tall tree with locust fruit pods hanging off the branches

This fruit from the Caribbean is also called “stinking toe fruit.” The fruit itself is actually quite sweet — it’s even used to flavour ice cream! Strangely, if you crack one open and you don’t smell anything, it’s probably gone rotten.

Surströmming

a surstromming sandwich with cream cheese and potato

A sandwich made with Surströmming, potatoes, onions and sour cream.

Surströmming (say "soor-stroh-ming") is tinned fish from Sweden. It is fermented (put in a salty brine for two months) before the tins are sealed up and sold. The process of fermenting the fish creates a strong rotten egg smell. People will eat Surströmming as a sandwich on thin slices of bread with butter, potatoes, onions and sour cream.

Stinky tofu

hands holding chopsticks that are digging into a plate full of stinky tofu

The name says it all! If you are looking for a snack that some say smells like smelly feet, you’ve come to the right place. Stinky tofu is bean curd that has been fermented in a brine of fermented milk, vegetables and meat. You can find it in Hong Kong, Taiwan, or China, where it is really popular (especially deep-fried)!

Nattō

chopsticks picking up some super sticky fermented beans off a small plate

(Canva)

Nattō (fermented soybeans) is a sticky, stringy, cheesy bowl of goo that has the delicious scent of old socks. You’d think that would turn kids off, but nope! Natto is a super-popular breakfast food, and Japanese school kids love to eat it as a snack.

Stink beans

baskets full of bright green pods full of stink beans

(Canva)

You may wonder why someone might choose to eat something called a stink bean that smells like fart. Well, it’s been said that they are very good for you — which is why they show up in many Southeast Asian stir-fry dishes.

Century egg

a gelatinous century egg cut in half sitting on a white plate

(Canva)

Admit it, you’d love to sample an egg that’s been rolled in clay, salt, and ash, and then left to sit around for several weeks to several months. Although they look very old and smell quite strong, they don't actually ferment for a whole century.

Hákarl

a plate with small cubes of fermented shark on it

(Wikimedia/Xfigpower/CC BY-SA 3.0)

This traditional dish from Iceland is eaten at festivals and is made from the meat of the Greenland shark, which is poisonous when it's fresh. Once it's been prepared by burying it for a few months, then hanging it to dry for a few more, you're left with a safe delicacy with a smell and taste that is similar to cleaning products.

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